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The Last Days of Bali

On Monday, November 21st, we arrived at Rai House in Sanur (a suburb of Denpasar) for our last week in Bali. Rai House Sanur probably was a family enclave at one time, but has been expanded and extended into a hotel, Balinese style. Our room comes with breakfast: stir fried noodles; stir fired rice; banana-coconut pancakes (these are thin, almost crepe-like pancakes and really good); or eggs (as you like them) and toast. We don’t have a refrigerator so although we make a trip to Hardy’s Mall to visit the grocery store for some personal necessities we don’t buy perishables. *Aside* We do grab a few of my favorites: mangosteens.

We settle into Rai House making our plan for our last week in Bali. I contact Berlin and Wayhu, our friends from Bali Sunday Morning, (they took us on a tour when we first arrived in Denpasar) to plan a trip to Tanah Lot Temple for Sunday, our last day in Bali. I contact Kadek Opo, my driver in Ubud to plan a day in Ubud for me and Tom together. I want to show him what I liked best there. *Aside* Both Kadek and his brother drove me on different occasions in Ubud, but I really enjoyed Kadek. He’s in his last year in university, studying economics in Sanur. He comes from a family of drivers: his father, uncle and brother are all drivers. This means each of them has a private van and for a price will drive you anywhere you want to go in Bali. (Remember? Bali is small!) I thought Tom and I could make our way to Ubud, do a walkabout and tour the Monkey Forest on our own. When Kadek finished his classes we would meet him for the rest of the tour. He gave us a price, saying he could take us to Ubud. I thought he had the day off from school, but it turned out that he came to Sanur, picked us up at 6:30 in the morning, took us to Ubud, dropped us off, went back to Sanur for class then returned for us at noon to start the rest of our tour in Ubud: at no extra charge! *Aside* When I realized what he did I asked him “Why?” He said he liked me very much and appreciated that I called him again. He said this is what customer service looks like to him. Wow! I’m so happy we were able to connect him to an Australian couple who booked him for another two days. We walked our Sanur neighborhood, scoped out restaurants and marveled at the dichotomy our quiet street and the never ending flow of traffic on the main thoroughfare at the end of our street. *Aside* When we walked up to the multi-laned intersection to cross over to the street to the beach it felt like a real life game of Frogger! Who remembers Frogger? Hold up your hand now! We return to Ubud. When we arrived at 7:45 AM, we went straight to the French Bakery to enjoy delicious European pastries for breakfast. Then we walked the path along the edge of the Monkey Forest but didn’t see any monkeys until we arrived at the upper curve of the path. Then there were the monkeys! Tom started taking some pictures which is when he had his first close encounter of a monkey kind. A monkey climbed on his back, apparently hoping to open his backpack as he seemed very busy trying to get in the zipper. When the second monkey joined the first, trying to remove Tom’s glasses, Tom headed to the fence where the monkeys cooperatively climbed off. *Aside* The first Monkey stopped trying to get into the bag and had begun trying to remove the mole from Tom’s neck. Tom says he didn’t mind the monkeys, but whatever the monkey was doing to his neck tickled! A lot!

My close encounter at this point was holding hands with the monkey. It was amazing how smooth and soft the monkey’s hand was. The monkey stroked my fingers and I stroked his fingers. The encounter ended when the monkey decided it would bite my fingernail. *Aside* Hey - I don’t bite my nails. I’m not going to let a monkey do it either! We went on around the corner heading for the end of the path when mayhem broke out within a group of adult male monkeys. Screaming, running and chasing ensued among the monkeys across the path and over rooftops. A man came out of a house on the other side of the wall dividing the path from the residential area with a slingshot in his hand. He didn’t actually shoot at the monkeys, just snapped the bands which made them disperse. We proceeded down the path to enter the Monkey Forest property. It was cool and pleasant under the trees and there were monkeys EVERYWHERE. They were mostly eating and it was easy to see how aggressive and territorial they could be with food.

My second encounter of a monkey kind arrived when a monkey climbed up my leg and became enamored with the comb in my hair. When the monkey became just a little too insistent that it wanted the comb and seemed intent on applying its teeth to the request, I let him off at a statue.

The temple and the statuary inside the Monkey Forest were amazing. We monkey/ people watched in the shady, cool of the Monkey Forest then proceeded on up Monkey Forest Road until we found a place for a massage. Tom chose a full body and I went for my favorite: foot reflexology. *Aside* I’m actually not sure if I got a good massage or not, but I assume so since I fell into a deep sleep while the lady worked on my feet and legs, awaking refreshed only when she said, “ Massage done ma’am.”

Kadek picked us up at the Monkey forest. After a quick lunch we visited the Lotus Pool, The Big Tree Chocolate Factory (yummy Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt!) and the Coffee Plantation. Tom ordered a cup of Luwak Coffee, proclaiming it “Delicious.” We saw live Civets sleeping (they are nocturnal animals) except one little guy who was wide awake: too much caffiene?

*Aside* further research indicates that Luwak coffee is actually lower in caffeine than other coffee. The Civet eats the skin off the coffee bean which is where the majority of the caffeine is. Finally we visit a medium quality Silver Store and a high quality Silver Store in search of a chain for Tom. We find a suitable piece in the medium quality store. However, much to the dismay of the salesperson, we decide to go see the high quality store before completing the purchase. *Aside* I have no idea what the lady said to Kadek as we walked out of the medium store, but she seemed more than a little irritated with our failure to buy.

The high quality store was amazing, more like an art installation than a jewelry store. But they didn’t have any chains, so we went back to the medium store for the purchase. *Aside* The original price tag was over $300 but Tom paid $125. Apparently only the stupid pay the asking price. On the way back to Sanur, Kadek took us to an out-of -the-way place he knows for dinner. We enjoyed the most amazing roast duck I’ve ever tasted. Wow!

Next day we wandered down the beach. There is an endless straw market interspersed with high end hotels and massages on the beach. Tom had a decaf cappuccino on the beach and we make a date for High Tea on the Beach for the next day. *Aside* High tea was awesome, only mildly marred by the honey bees that wanted to share the marmalade for our scones. One day we visited the mall to see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” *Aside* Hey it’s what you do at the mall, even in Bali! We return to Merah Putih for a “Goodbye Bali” last meal. *Aside* On our first visit, before we arrived at the restaurant I decided we would have the Indonesian Tasting Menu. Later I discovered that Tom was really disappointed that he didn’t get to try their Roast Suckling Pig. Tom loved the Tasting Menu, but he really wanted some Merah Putih pork. I owed him a pig.

As with our first visit the food was outstanding and the desserts were phenomenal. We would have cheerfully eaten here over and over, but it was about an hour by cab to get there. *Aside* This time factor is mainly due to the traffic in the Denpasar area. All too soon our last day arrived, but we planned well to spend it with Berlin and Wayhu. We grab lunch and visit a hot spring on the way to Tanah Lot. *Aside* The hot spring was actually only lukewarm (and crowded) so we didn’t strip down and get in.

It turns out that Berlin’s grandfather lived in Tanah Lot and Berlin spent a lot of his childhood there. In fact he helped his first tourist in Tanah Lot when he was just a kid. The temple was fascinating. As we arrived the tide was coming in and the wind was picking up which made the waves crashing around the temple exciting to watch. However, the rapidly rising water made the temple inaccessible without wading through deeper and deeper water, so we skipped going inside. We wandered around, enjoyed fresh coconut with lime juice but the rain blew in and blew out the scheduled fire dance show. The sky cleared just enough to show us how the sunset might have looked.

It would have been kind of a bust for the day, but Berlin and Wayhu were delightful so it really didn’t matter how we spent the day. We got to spend it with them. Berlin and Wayhu dropped us at the airport for our 1:30 AM flight to Cebu, via Manila. We hugged our heartfelt goodbyes but ultimately had to turn our backs on our friends and Bali. So now we return to Cebu to regroup. Tom doesn’t have a job yet, but still wants one. The holidays will make planning difficult with prices going up and accommodations becoming scarce. We need to plan the next chapter but we’re not even sure what we want to wish for. Santa?

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